Tackling Family Gatherings with Pets

The holiday season is upon us, which for many pet guardians means time spent at gatherings with family and friends. Whether you are heading to someone else’s house or hosting at your home, there are some unique challenges that can come along with the holiday season when we have pets! Do we bring our dogs along to family gatherings or leave them at home? How can we prevent our pets from getting into holiday meals or snatching snacks off the kitchen counter? What do we do if our pets are uncomfortable around guests? Keep reading for answers to these questions and tips for enjoying a jolly and low-stress holiday season!

To Bring or Not to Bring

While it can be tempting to want to bring our dogs along to family gatherings, there are some things we should consider beforehand:

  • Has my dog been invited to the event? Don’t assume that you can bring your dog unless you’ve been expressly invited to do so!
  • Am I bringing my dog because I want them there or because my dog will genuinely enjoy being there?
  • Will my dog be comfortable will all of the other people and pets in attendance? Will all of those people and pets be comfortable with my dog?
  • Will there be children in attendance? Even dogs who are very tolerant of children can become overwhelmed when small humans are running or yelling at fun family events like holidays!
  • Is there space available for my dog to have a solo quiet zone away from people and other animals if they need a break?
  • How long will the gathering be? Extended events can be very tiring for dogs and result in them getting cranky (just like people!).
Keep Your Feast Out of Reach

Have you heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Because an ounce of prevention is worth it to avoid losing a pound of food to curious and motivated pets! Keep bowls and pots of food out of reach of pets, and be especially careful that hot foods and dishes aren’t accessible. This may mean placing pets in another room, in a crate, or behind a baby gate while you are cooking – this also keeps pets out from underfoot while you are carrying hot pans from the oven! There are some holiday foods that are dangerous for pets as well, so make sure to keep those well out of reach. Check out this list from the ASPCA on foods to avoid!

Gearing Up for Guests

If you are having guests to your home during the holidays, have a plan ahead of time for where your pets will be. When your guests arrive, it may be helpful to ask them to text or call you instead of knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell, since those extra front door sounds can be extra exciting for a lot of pets. Prevent door-dashing or overexcited greetings by keeping your dog on leash or placing them behind a baby gate while guests come in. If you have a cat or dog who is likely to be scared or uncomfortable with guests entering the home, consider placing them in another room with soothing music and a tasty snack!

If your dog is going to be out and about while guests are over there are lots of ways we can set everyone up for success during the visit. Think about skills and cues they know that might be useful and put in some extra practice in the days and weeks leading up to the guest arrival. For example, is your dog familiar with a “go to bed” or “relax on a mat” cue? Practice that ahead of time so that it will be more likely that your dog can chill there during the human meal! You can also let your guests know if your dog has any particular cues or tricks that they enjoy showing off and set aside some treats for the guests to give. That’s a fun way to get your dog involved in a rewarding way and gives visitors a fun and appropriate method of interacting with your dog. Be clear with your guests about what kind of interactions are appropriate for your dog so that they stay comfortable!

Set Up for Success

Set expectations for guests or family members so that they know what the routine will be with your pets. If you need your guests to refrain from petting your dog on top of their head (which most dogs don’t like), set that ground rule ahead of time and remind them as soon as they walk in the door. If a friend begs you to bring your dog to a holiday party and you know it will be overwhelming or not an ideal situation for your pup, politely decline and let your friend know that your dog will be happier at home. If you do bring your dog along to a gathering, arrive a bit early to let them settle in – take them for a sniff walk around the yard, show them where water bowls and comfy spots to relax are, and give them time to acclimate before the house is full of guests. Advocate for your pet’s needs!

Holidays tend to be a time of heighted excitement where it is easy to overlook our pet’s stress signals in the chaos of party environments. Look out for stress signals like a dog who moves away when a guest reaches out to pet them, dogs sitting or standing stiffly instead of relaxed, or panting when they aren’t hot. I highly recommend the book Doggie Language to help you become familiar with canine body language information – it’s an excellent resource to have on hand during the holiday season! Make sure to keep an eye on your pet – intervene if you see a stressful situation building, give your pet breaks, and let them have regular quiet time away from the excitement. And if your dog or cat is more comfortable staying away from the party entirely, that’s perfectly fine too! Give them a designated space in a quiet room with a sign on the door reminding guests not to open it, or arrange for your pet to spend the day at a trusted boarding facility or with a pet sitter.

If you are looking for targeted training advice for the holidays, schedule your virtual consultation or training session now using our online booking tool. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Rover Rehab Holiday Gift Guide 2021

At Rover Rehab we love supporting fellow small and local businesses, and there is no better time to show our support than during the holiday season! For this year’s holiday pet gift guide we’ve compiled a list of our favorite pet-related small businesses. In the categories below you’ll find handpicked recommendations for a variety of high-quality treats, toys, human accessories, places to donate, and more! Consider shopping small this holiday season and making a difference for businesses like these. And remember, shop early to prevent last-minute mail delays. Happy gifting!

  • Yoshito Treats – Homemade training treats and biscuits for all the doggos, plus stickers! These are a staple in my house, and I love that the treats come in fun flavors and are perfectly crunchy for my pups. Follow on Instagram for restock updates and info on special holiday offerings! Woman-owned & BIPOC-owned business, all items handmade in Oakland, CA.
  • Fig & Tyler – freeze-dried and slow-baked treats made from real meat and fish. Pick out a few different flavors or choose a gift option for a selection of Fig & Tyler favorites. Use code LK0699 to save 10% on your first order! All proteins are sourced and process in the USA.
  • Farm Hounds – all natural, organic dog chews and treats in a variety of proteins to satisfy every canine palate. All chews and treats are sourced directly from family farms in the US and each item you receive will have a label with exactly which farm it came from! Save $20 on your first Farm Hounds order with this referral link.
  • Tony’s Bakeshop – organic & gluten-free dog treats made with fun seasonal flavors! You can order individual flavor bags of biscuits as well as “party boxes” – you can even get biscuits custom made with your pup’s name on them! Woman-owned business, treats are handmade in Florida

  • ThinkSmart Snuffle Mats – snuffle mats and pet bandanas available in a variety of fun color combinations! Snuffle mats are an excellent enrichment option and make for a fun mealtime or training activity. And as an added bonus, 20% of proceeds from ThinkSmart snuffle mats are donated to a CO dog rescue! Woman-owned, handmade in Colorado.
  • The Waggly Hound – Pre-made or custom snuffle mats and tug toys! You can choose from a variety of snuffle options including mats, balls, and baskets in a range of colors and patterns. Woman-owned business, handmade in Massachusetts.
  • The Nosey Nose – nosework training kits for dogs. The Nosey Nose kits come with everything you need to get started with nosework games and provide a great outlet for mental and physical exercise. Crafted in New Jersey.

  • High Tail Hikes – waterproof and durable biothane leashes, long lines, collars, and accessories in multiple widths, colors, and color combos! With three different biothane weights available this shop has great options for dogs of all sizes – I even use the 3/8″ width leash for my cat. Use code ROVERREHAB10 to save 10% on any order! Woman-owned business, handmade in Oakland, CA
  • Off Road K9 – another great option for biothane leashes and long lines! The hands-free leashes from this shop are great for everything from daily walks to sniffari adventures and leave hands free for reeling in extra leash or giving treats. Woman-owned business, handmade in Eugene, OR
  • Kira’s Pet Shop – dog and cat collars, bandanas, and leashes available in a ton of fun colors and patterns! I have five or six collars from this shop and all of them are beautifully crafted and have held up well through many uses. Their bandanas are also cleverly designed to easily attach to a collar and have your dog’s ID tag still show! Woman-owned business, handmade in Catskill, NY.
  • Doo Loop – if you’re sick of having to carry your filled pet waste bags for the entirety of your walk, the Doo Loop will be a gamechanger! I bought a few of these last year and they’ve become a necessary part of my walks and hikes. The Doo Loop conveniently attaches to your leash or treat pouch and allows for hands-free dog poop transport until you find a trash can. Made in Maine
  • Misty Made This – pet bandanas plus human masks in tons of fun patterns! Bandanas are reversible for 2-in-1 fashion and the human masks are by far the most comfortable of any of the masks I use. Woman-owned, BIPOC-owned business, handmade in Washington state.

  • Woof Cultr – spreading the humane training message with shirts, joggers, hats, treats pouches, stickers, and more. Most of my work wardrobe is courtesy of WoofCultr and they have new designs coming out regularly. Woman-owned business, designed in Washington state
  • Canis Nerdus – Nerdy with a side of spice! Find fun dog and training-themed stickers, prints, shirts, mugs, and more. Woman-owned business, created in Colorado
  • BioStudio Pet Portraits – custom digital watercolor pet portraits. I ordered one of these pet portraits earlier this year for a family member who had recently lost their dog and I was very pleased with the quality and care put into the portrait. A lovely gift for any pet guardian who enjoys custom pet art. Woman-owned, handcrafted in Florida
  • Give the gift of training with a Rover Rehab gift card! Gift cards can be purchased in amounts between $25 and $100 and can applied to training packages or future webinars/online course offerings.

  • The Daily Bean (Vernon, NJ) – dog-friendly coffee shop and bakery with drinks, breakfast options, sandwiches, and a variety of local products for both humans and pups. You might even catch a glimpse of Bean the French Bulldog who can often be seen napping behind the counter!
  • Maxwell & Molly’s Closet (Newton, Sparta, & Hamburg, NJ) – pet boutique offering quality food, treats, toys, and accessories in Sussex County, NJ.
  • Living Pawsitively (Lafayette, NJ) – pet supply store with food, treats, toys, pet gear, grooming supplies, and more. Shop in store or order for curbside pickup or local delivery!

  • Mr. Bones & Co – a 501c3 animal welfare non-profit based in New York that focuses on rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption of dogs in need. Mr. Bones and Co is also a rescue committed to humane, positive reinforcement training, which we love! Donate on their website to support their mission
  • Susie’s Senior Dogs – a 501c3 non-profit focusing on senior and elderly dogs looking for their forever homes. SSD strives to raise awareness for homeless senior dogs as well as provide veterinary care and training support for adoptable senior pups. Donate on their website to support their mission
  • Local rescues and shelters – reach out to shelters and rescues in your local area to find out what donations they may need! Financial support as well as donations of items like dog and cat food, towels, and cleaning supplies are often greatly appreciated by shelter and rescue staff and pets. And make sure to thank the staff for all of their hard work throughout the year!

Happy gifting! We hope you consider supporting some of these wonderful small businesses this holiday season (and year round!) but don’t forget to pop into your local pet product storefronts as well. Shopping local and supporting small businesses for holiday pet gifts is a great way to show your support and help small business owners continue to offer the services and products we value so much.

Boo! Helping Our Pets Prepare for Spooky Season

Halloween decorations, costumes, and candy make for a fun fall experience! Well, at least fun for us humans – it can be a different story for our pets. Whether it’s navigating neighborhood walks with spooky lawn décor or preparing for trick-or-treating without a door-dashing dog, here are some tips for keeping the Halloween season fun and low-stress for you and your pets!

Halloween Tips for Pets

Safety First: Prevent door dashing and accidental escapes on Halloween by using baby gates to block exits or keeping your pets in another room with a tasty chew. Prevention is best but make sure your pet is wearing an ID collar so that they can be returned to you if they do escape.

Costume Fun: Pets may be startled by seeing people in strange costumes. Don’t force your pet to greet trick-or-treaters and when in doubt keep them behind a gate or in another room. If your pet enjoys wearing their own clothes and you plan on dressing them up for the holiday, get their costume ahead of time and let them get used to wearing it. Always pair wearing the costume with treats and fun games so that they have a positive experience!

Reduce Stress: Remember that many pets experience more stress when there is increased doorbell or knocking activity. During peak trick-or-treating hours, keep your pet in another room with a long-lasting chew or frozen toy and play soft music to help counteract the front door sounds. 

Candy Caution: Keep candy and empty wrappers away from your pets! Chocolate and artificial sweeteners can be toxic to pets, and empty wrappers pose a choking hazard and can lead to digestive issues. Keep candy and wrappers out of reach, and keep an eye out for any dropped sweets on the sidewalk when out for walks after Halloween.

Lawn Decorations: It’s fun to make your lawn into a spooky scene with tombstones, ghosts, and other Halloween décor, but some of our dogs can find these additions a little too spooky. Help them out by walking on the opposite side of the street when you can or avoid houses with large decorations if your dog is afraid. Bring treats on every walk and offer them to your dog as you pass by lawn décor to help them learn that scary stuff is not so spooky after all!

If your dog struggles to stay calm and confident during the holiday season, book your consultation today for targeted tips and training guidance to keep your holiday season fun!

The Wide World of Training Terminology

Have you ever started reading a dog training article, encountered a lot of terminology you hadn’t heard before, and felt a bit lost? You aren’t alone! The world of dog training is full of words and shorthand that can seem like another language at first, and can make it feel harder to get the information you need. Here are a few of the common terms and abbreviations you might see in the dog training world:

  • R+: an abbreviation for “positive reinforcement”, R+ refers to training that relies on adding something pleasant to make a behavior happen more often. This could be treats, play, praise – whatever your individual dog finds rewarding. This training style is also called rewards-based training and is the type of training we do here at Rover Rehab because it is proven to be both effective and humane!
  • Fear-free: training that explicitly does not use force, corrections, or coercion to meet your training goals and change your pet’s behavior. Did you know that trainer Lyz is a Fear Free Certified Professional?
  • Aversive: an event or tool that causes pain, fear, or emotional discomfort. This is something we avoid during training as it increases the odds that our dogs will show fear or aggression!
  • Dominance Theory: the theory that many dog behavior problems stem from dogs wanting to be “dominant” over humans, and that humans must be the “alpha” in order to solve behavioral problems. This theory is common, but did you know that it isn’t actually true? It is based on a debunked study of captive wolves, and it turns out that our dogs don’t think that way at all! Instead of being the “alpha”, focus on being a benevolent guardian for your dog.
  • Desensitization (DS) and Counter Conditioning (CC): training techniques where we gradually introduce our pets to things they might be uncomfortable with and pair the experience with good things. These techniques are helpful for reactivity, aggression, fear, anxiety, and more!
  • Cue: a signal to a dog to perform a specific behavior. At Rover Rehab we intentionally use “cue” in place of “command” to signify that our dogs are sentient beings who can make choices!

Are you feeling overwhelmed or confused by all the training and dog parent information on the Internet? Do you want access to a full terminology glossary, helpful resources, and professional training advice? I’ve launched a new project for you!

Make It Click is a podcast and community all about training, enriching, and loving your canine best friend. When you join the club on Patreon you’ll get access to podcast episodes, curated training content, and a supportive community of dog guardians just like you. You’ll also be able to submit questions for the Q&A portion of the podcast and have access to live office hours with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – that’s me! Join the club on Patreon at MakeItClick.club

Why We Love Virtual Dog Training

Virtual dog training offers convenient and effective training solutions from the comfort of home

Virtual dog training comes with a lot of perks, which is why Rover Rehab offers a variety of virtual and hybrid training options! Working virtually allows your trainer to provide you with customized coaching and a personalized approach for teaching manners, resolving behavior problems, preparing for a new pet, and more. Virtual training is effective, convenient, and gives you the tools to address all of your dog’s training needs at home and out in the world!

Virtual dog training sessions are conducted via live video conferencing which gives us the ability to train at your home, in your yard, in your neighborhood, and around town in dog-friendly locations – no matter where you live! During every session you’ll receive personalized coaching to help you meet your training goals and empower you and your pet with the skills you need to live your best life together. You’ll leave every virtual session with new skills you can put into practice in everyday life as well as management tips to provide relief from behaviors that are causing frustration or stress. Virtual training also comes with flexible scheduling – weekday, evening, and weekend appointments are available!

Virtual Training FAQs
Why are training consultations conducted virtually instead of the trainer coming to my house?

We want you to be successful so it’s important for your trainer to learn all about your dog and your training needs – meeting virtually is an ideal way to do this. Training consultations are an opportunity for your trainer to learn all the details they need about your dog to come up with a customized training plan, introduce management and foundation training pointers to get you started, and work with you to determine the best option for ongoing training. These consultations require a lot of talking on the human side, so meeting virtually allows us to do this with the least distraction for your pet. With this foundation appointment, your trainer will be able to create a training plan that will be most effective for your individual dog and your specific situation.

Won’t training be less successful if the trainer isn’t here in person to work with my dog?

Not at all! In fact, we’ve found the opposite to be true – virtual training means you and your dog quickly pick up on new skills together since there is no distraction of a trainer being present. You’ll receive exactly the same expert guidance as you would get during in-person training, with the only difference being that YOU get to be the “go-to” person for your dog! Your trainer doesn’t live in your home with you, so virtual training lets us set you and your dog up for success by making sure YOU have the skills and tools to practice at home without a trainer there. We want your dog to pay attention to you instead of the trainer, and virtual training helps us accomplish that.

Virtual training is especially effective for dogs who are overly excited or nervous about guests, as having a trainer enter their home can be stressful. Meeting virtually allows us to introduce “real life” training skills first, then add guests coming over once our dogs are more likely to be successful. This often speeds up the training process since your dog is already equipped with training skills once guests come over!

What can I expect during a virtual training session?

All of our virtual sessions are conducted live via Zoom, so all you need is a phone or computer with a camera and internet access. We will spend the first few minutes of the session checking in on your training tasks from the previous session and making any needed adjustments. Then you will be introduced to one or two new training exercises designed to help you meet your training goals. Your trainer will show you a new skill via either live demo with one of their dogs or with video, and then will coach you in real time as you practice the skill with your own dog.

This type of coaching means that you will be able to successfully work on training at home even when you aren’t in a training session because you’ll already have had a chance to practice your skills in that setting. The last part of the session will be spent going over questions about new training skills and introducing your “Action Items” (the things you will practice at home). After the session you’ll receive customized training notes, video clips from your session, and resources to support your training.

What kind of training skills can be taught virtually?

So many different things! Virtual training can help with puppy training including potty training, crate training, helping with puppy biting and nipping, leash manners, polite greetings, and socialization. We can work on manners and obedience for dogs of any age, whether your dog has never had training before or if they need to brush up on their skills. Virtual training is also great for providing relief from fear, anxiety, reactivity, resource guarding, and other behavioral problems. I’m currently working virtually with clients who are successfully tackling everything from puppy training to leash reactivity!

How can I socialize my puppy if we’re only meeting virtually?

Luckily for us, socialization doesn’t always mean having our puppies directly interact with people or other dogs. The more important component of socialization is having positive exposure to a variety of things, and this is something we can very effectively coach you on via virtual training. We can even take virtual field trips where you bring your puppy somewhere new, hop onto Zoom on your phone, and receive real-time coaching on introducing your puppy to new environments, people, and animals!

What if I need behavior advice for a cat, can virtual training help with that?

Absolutely! Cats do very well with virtual sessions because working virtually doesn’t require a stranger coming into their home. We can help cats with litterbox issues, fear, aggression, problems with other pets in the home, and more.

Where can I learn more about virtual training services?

Check out our Services pages for information on virtual training options for puppies, adult dogs, behavior problems, and cats!

Book Your Consultation Today!

Questions? Reach out via our contact form!

Contact Us:

Check us out on social media at RoverRehabNJ or support us on the Make It Click Patreon (buttons below!)